Saturday, July 31, 2010

Prostate Cancers, 'Cell of Origin'

Folks, some exciting news from the medical research on (even if you fall asleep reading technical articles :))


For researchers, a key to studying any cancer is finding its "cell of origin." Now scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles say they've found just that -- a specific type of cell that gives rise to prostate cancer.

For years doctors worked under the assumption that prostate cancer arose from cells called luminal cells, which line the inside of the prostate's tiny ducts and secrete the prostate gland's fluid.

But by using a new method to grow human tissue in mice, researchers have found a new origin of prostate cancer - a type of cell called basal cells, which support the luminal cells and regenerate prostate tissue.

Cancer experts say the discovery may lead to better treatments in the future.

"Just because something looks like a luminal cell, doesn't mean it's a luminal cell," said Owen Witte, of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science.

The finding was surprising, because cells in most prostate tumors look similar to luminal cells.

"The basal cells, we've almost always ignored, and it turns out it may be causing cancer," said Dr. Anthony Smith, chairman of the public media committee for the American Urological Association, who was not involved in the study.

Using a new mouse-human model for research

Witte had noticed basal cells were giving rise to tumors in his previous research with mice, so he and his colleagues decided to test the idea in human cells.

The researchers embedded two samples of human prostate tissue into mice -- one sample of the prostate's luminal cells, and the other of prostate basal cells.

Both sets of cells were genetically altered to induce cancer. But, as the human cells lived inside the mice, researchers saw that only the basal cells turned into tumors with luminal-like appearances. The luminal cells did not turn into tumors at all.

Until now, cancer researchers say they were limited to implanting small tumors in mice and studying how they continue to grow. But observing this transformation - from healthy cells into tumors - could help doctors fight many types of cancers at their earliest stages.

"What it will help us do is to pin down the sequence of steps that take you from normal cells to cancer. That's a very different type of model. That is what I think is so significant," said Smith, who is also professor and chief of the division of urology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

If doctors know the steps that lead to the development of cancer, then "you can intervene at the earliest point," Smith told LiveScience.

Fighting severe prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, 217,730 new cases will be diagnosed and 32,050 men are expected to die from the disease in 2010. Yet for the majority of men who are diagnosed, prostate cancer will be well managed.

"If you look at men with the most common form of prostate cancer, which is treated locally or with surgery, the five-year survival is 100 percent," said Mark Rubin, professor in pathology and laboratory medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, who was not involved in the current study.

However, while many men survive, the minority of men who have severe prostate cancer have few treatment options. "Important, but yet-to-be-proven" results like Witte's may one day help doctors develop new treatments, Rubin said.

"We're not really trying to find more local cancers or early cancers, but we are trying to figure out why some men get aggressive cancers, and those are the men who are dying from the disease," Rubin said. "This is very convincing data, and very exciting results."

Rubin and Smith pointed out the findings are still preliminary.

****This is the kind of news that gets me excited and is the single reason we need to increase spending on research.

Be well everyone


Saturday, July 24, 2010

speaking of the egg....

Gosh, I forgot to finish my thought in the last post (old age my friends)

yesterday my son Bradley wanted to see if it was hot enough to fry and egg so he took a couple outside in the middle of the afternoon, broke one on the road and one on tin foil to see if it was hot enough.

Digressing just a little bit, Bradley is into the show 'Myth Busters' big time, so this was his experiment to see if the phrase 'it's hot enough to fry an egg on the road' is true or a myth.

Unfortunately when he tried the sun went and stayed behind some clouds. He ruled the experiment suspended until today when we expect nothing but hot sun come the middle of the afternoon.

stay tuned...

hot enough to fry an egg on asphalt?

Boy I'm not sure about you but it's been brutally hot here in Charlotte. Yesterday was 94 with a heat index of 102 and today they are calling for a high of 99.

The good thing about this, is that everyone is sweating and so when I do, it brings on comments like "hot isn't it" or "man it's humid" which just make me smile a bit.

As many of you know my current treatment, hormone therapy, has the side effect of hot flashes.
So this time of year I just kind of blend in :). But come winter, I'll be the only guy in the neighborhood who can take a walk in 40 degree weather in shorts and a t-shirt and still sweat.

Coming up this fall, the organization ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer, is putting on a celebrity golf tournament in Myrtle Beach called 'Know Your Score' and it will feature some celebs including Emmy Award winning essayist Jim Huber, Ken Griffy Sr. and many others, to help raise awareness of Prostate Cancer and the importance of getting your PSA checked.

I'm hoping to take part in the event and heck, I should have one in Charlotte.

Know your Score

Friday, July 2, 2010

keeping the PSA low

Great news again, third quarter in a row my PSA reading that came in this week was "less than .01" which is awesome. The Hormone therapy treatment basically has my cancer in remission for now but I have to remember, it's not killing the cancer, just keeping it from growing and spreading.

Yeah, that's great news.

My Oncologist, 3 months ago said "I can't look you in the eye and say that keeping you on HT for more than one year will do you any good."

In my visit last week he was enthusiastic about keeping me on HT for 2 years....without hesitation.
Makes sense, the last thing I want is the cancer to grow and spread so outside of the minor side effects, this HT is just what I need.

In the meantime, I'm anticipating new drugs to hit the market such as Abiraterone or MDV3100 which are both in clinical trials that look pretty promising. The MDV3100 is supposed to be a much better HT drug than the two I'm receiving, Lupron and Casodex.

all in all, "Life is Good" (thanks Jake)

Enjoy the Independence Day Weekend.